Population and Public Health Project Lead Anne Todd advocates for equity and sustainability in food
At the start of her career, Anne Todd quickly recognized the need for poverty reduction and liveable incomes. Working as a clinical dietitian at the time, Anne often felt helpless when she offered nutrition recommendations that were beyond her clients’ means. That inspired her to look at systemic change to improve food security. “We need to ensure no one is left behind, and that everyone has dignified access to foods that are appropriate to their needs and choices.”
In her role as the Food Systems and Food Security Project Leader for Population and Public Health (PPH), Anne is an advocate for a just and sustainable food system, where everyone has affordable access to good, healthy food.
All of us need to eat and we all benefit from eating foods that nourish our bodies and souls that we enjoy, that fit with our culture, traditions, celebrations, and help us connect with each other.
In this relatively new role with the Wellness Promotion Programs (WPP) team, she brings quality evidence and best practices to Fraser Health’s food security and sustainable food systems work. Anne works with public health dietitians and community health specialists, along with Health Protection’s Healthy Built Environment teams and other disciplines across Fraser Health. Last year, her team created an internal food-security action plan, which is currently in its engagement phase.
Currently, Anne is focussed on addressing two threats to long-term food security: rising inequality and climate change. Working in population and public health offers Anne opportunities to create partnerships to address these burning issues.
In 2022, the Wellness Promotion Program supported 11 Fraser Health communities, including two First Nations communities, to develop or update their community-level food- security plans, with a focus on promoting equity. Anne’s work honours the essential role of Indigenous knowledge in developing a food system that is sustainable and equitable. “We need to learn from our Indigenous elders and knowledge keepers to support Indigenous communities in accessing traditional foods in traditional ways,” she affirms.
Anne’s team is also looking at the impact of climate change on healthy food. Severe weather events in BC in the last year highlighted the urgency of adapting local food systems to a more extreme climate. Protecting the environment is something personal to Anne. Growing up on a farm instilled a deep respect for nature and the need to protect and preserve the lands and waterways.
Over her career, Anne has seen significant changes in the food system; it signals the possibility of more positive change to come. Lately, Anne has noticed there’s interest “at all levels” to develop climate-friendly, local, culturally relevant and equitable food systems. “It’s exciting to be involved in this work… We’ve only just begun!”